Burrell

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Burrell
LABELS: ASV
WORKS: Viola Concerto; Landscape; Resurrection; Das Meer, das so gross und weit ist, da wimmelt’s ohne Zahl, grosse und kleine Tiere
PERFORMER: Jane Atkins (viola); Northern Sinfonia of England/John Lubbock
CATALOGUE NO: CD DCA 977
The first CD to be devoted entirely to the music of English composer Diana Burrell (born 1948) offers a valuable and generous introduction to it. Listening to these four orchestral works, however, rather draws attention to her favourite gestures and techniques: the keening cry of anguish; a penchant for rhythmic unison, whether tending to becalm her music or to energise it; a liking for unusual additions to her orchestral resources and for two-part forms.

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Landscape (1988) sounds rather like a collection of these, relying a little too much on steel pans and tenor recorders to provide its individuality. Das Meer, das so gross und weit ist, da wimmelt’s ohne Zahl, grosse und kleine Tiere (1992, and in the competition for the world’s longest title award!) is dense and tough, but also lyrical in its unusual strings-only evocation of the sea.

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The symbolic ritual drama of Resurrection (1993) is shot through with the animated cries of a concertante cor anglais. The Viola Concerto (1994) is splendidly resilient and dramatic, drawing its elements together in a coherent single-movement shape which expertly pits the solo instrument (Burrell was a professional viola player for several years) against the orchestra. These are excellent performances, though we don’t need the composer’s signed ‘review’ on the back of the CD case to tell us so. Keith Potter